America has a civic religion. In 1952, Justice William O. Douglas wrote, “We are a religious people and our institutions presuppose a Supreme Being” (Zorach v. Clauson, Docket 431, citation 343 US 306, 1952.). Note that this is different from the personal faith of individuals–their manner of worship, fellowship and practice. This is civic religion–religion embedded in our government.
The natural-law philosophy, our civic religion foundational to the American constitution, is in direct conflict with secular law. An example of this would be the secular law of open-mindedness required of teachers by Professor John Dewey (John S. Brubacher and Willis Rudy, Higher Education Transition, New York: Harper and Row, 1958, 310). It blindsides students to the horrific differences between good and evil and causes them to go along with the pagan laws of man contrived by liberal judges, legislators and educators.
The Declaration of Independence (1776), the Articles of Confederation (drafted 1777, ratified 1781) and the Constitution (ratified 1788) have been classified as the most important American charters. Collectively they received a total of 143 signatures from 118 people. By their affirmations, these individuals represented themselves to be believers in the providence of God, and they did so at the risk of being hung by British soldiers.
In a letter from Benjamin Rush to John Adams, Rush says of that fateful day when the Declaration of Independence was signed, “Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants? The silence and the gloom of the morning were interrupted, I well recollect, only for a moment by Colonel [Benjamin] Harrison of Virginia, who said to Mr. [Elbridge] Gerry at the table: ‘I shall have a great advantage over you, Mr. Gerry, when we are all hung for what we are now doing. From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes, but from the lightness of your body you will dance in the air an hour or two before you are dead.’ This speech procured a transient smile, but it was soon succeeded by the solemnity with which the whole business was conducted…”
Professor Donald S. Lutz of the University of Houston describes a ten-year study during which he and others assembled the writings and deliberations of the American Founding Fathers. The study brought into focus important sources that were used when determining priorities for the American constitution. Aside from quotations from the Bible, the writings of Montesquieu, Blackstone and Locke were the sources relied upon most by the Founding Fathers.
Montesquieu’s best-known work was The Spirit of Laws. He emphasized the importance of separating personnel and duties for the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. The purpose of this separation of power was to prevent abuse of the people’s rights as sovereigns over government (Isaiah 33:22; Jeremiah 17). Blackstone emphasized the Law of Nature (man’s nature both before and after the fall) and Revealed Law (scripture). His Commentaries on the Common Law of England was especially practical for the new nation. Locke, born into a Puritan family and son of a lawyer, provided the “Essay Concerning Human Understanding” and two treatises “On Civil Government.” His “life, liberty, or property” phrase is in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.
The chief source for the Founding Fathers’ understanding was the Bible. It was cited three times more often than were these three men combined. Thirty-four percent of all ideas referred to by the constitutional delegates came directly from the Old and New Testament books. Furthermore, 60 percent of the references to opinions of Montesquieu, Blackstone and Locke were drawn from the Bible. The most frequently quoted book was the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. Out of the 56 signers of the Declaration, 29 held seminary degrees (Donald S. Lutz, The Origins of American Constitutionalism (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1988).
“The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days” (Harry S. Truman).
Governments and authoritarians are not the source of man’s rights. Government is but a tool that should be used to protect man’s right to worship creation’s God. This impartial Creator of life ordained and established the unalienable human rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence that demand representative governments to follow the rule of established law, not the arbitrary rule of man. Legislators, administrators and judges who use laws (the power of government) to establish religious, ideological or employee union monopolies are fascistic.*
“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God” (John Adams).
*Fascism is a word used to identify the enemies of representative governments and governments limited for the protection of the people’s freedom to be informed and to choose.
~ David Norris